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Landmark: Number of Donut Hole Rebate Checks Passes One Million

This weekend, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mailed the one millionth $250 check to a senior who had reached the current gap in prescription drug coverage. The checks are part of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of seniors’ benefits and the provision to close this “donut hole” gap by 2014.

Cross-posted from

On August 10th, you may have seen Jenny Backus’ post on HealthCare Notes noting that the third round of donut hole rebate checks went into the mail.
Recently, we hit a major milestone: the millionth check was sent out over the weekend.
If you haven’t heard about the rebate checks before, they are the first step in closing the prescription drug coverage gap under the Affordable Care Act. This gap is commonly referred to as the ‘donut hole.’ We know that many people with Medicare have tight budgets and some may skip or alter the medicines their doctors recommend they take in order to save money in the donut hole. That is dangerous and unacceptable. And that’s why the Affordable Care Act takes steps to close this coverage gap.

This year, as qualifying people with Medicare enter the ‘donut hole,’ Medicare will send them a tax-free, one-time rebate check for $250.  Next year, if you reach the ‘donut hole,’ you will receive a 50 percent discount when buying covered brand-name prescription drugs. 
If you are eligible for this assistance, remember, you don’t need to do anything special to receive the check. People who qualify for the one-time check do not need to sign up, since their checks are mailed automatically when they enter the donut hole. So just make sure to check the mailbox.
Just a reminder: you should never give out personal information to anyone who is not a trusted source. If anyone asks for your personal information you are encouraged to contact 1-800-MEDICARE and report the inquiry. You can also visit for more information.
We hope that the latest round of checks will ease the burden on individuals recently entering the donut hole. This is just one of several ways that the Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare so make sure you check out and other areas of for more information.

Don Berwick is Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services